Библиографическое описание:

Давлатова С. Т. Risala as a collection of statues and rules concerning handicraft // Молодой ученый. — 2014. — №4. — С. 739-743.

One of the peculiar features of the traditional craft of Central Asian peoples is an existence of social associations of craftsmen. These organizations have specific natures of unions, based on traditions of local communities of the region. These craft associations emerged with the advent of technology of craft production, and also with the necessity to protect interests of producers of certain type of the craft. These guilds — craft shops had their leaders — aksakals (elders) and their activities were carried out according to special document — risala. Ethical, legal and social norms about certain kind of crafts set out in risala based on Islamic (Shariat) law. In particular, in risala, in detail described technical processes, types and qualities of goods, tools, as well as customs and rituals of certain kind of the craft.

Risala is an Arabic word, means the meaning “letter”, “message”, “agitation”, “an essay devoted to the craft” [1, с. 9]. Risala, speaking in the language of craftmen is a book of the craft and the propaganda of several crafts, a craftsman in the literal sense means also to become an artist. Researchers such as N. O. Petrovski and V. M. Nalivkin considered risala as a writing sermons; and P. A. Komarov wrote that risala is — a “moral, good advice”, “message or letter of one of the twelve legendary mentors of Jesus” [2, с. 2]. According to P. A. Middendorf, “risala is a collection of obedience and worship for the God, and something between them and ethical norms of certain kind of the craft, and it’s catechism, composed in the 16th century”. Also, N. N. Lykoshin maintained that — “risala is historical sketch of every known local craftsman, and in them detailed questions, including from the agriculture till the fortune-telling using ship wools, also a petition of favors from Allah by craftsman for himself and his craft. We can say based on Arabic values of risala — that this type of composition has such meanings as a “letter”, “message”, “treatise” (scientific work devoted to some problem), “brochure”, “work”, “opinion”, “job” and etc. The researcher D. Atadjanova indicated in her works that risala is a treatise on the various branches of handicraft, and it along with the instructions of craftsmen also covered certain types of craft and their positions in cities. She described in details types of risala as a “risala about chaikhana keeper”, “risala about military people”, “risala about caring for animals” and etc [3, с. 80].

Also, in our opinion, risala according to its content and meaning is regulation, a set of rules of certain kind of craft and it’s main treatise. Also risala contains information about the history of every kind of craft, including the requirements from apprentice who wants to acquire a certain kind of craft, and about the relationship between master-usta and apprentice-shogird. Furthermore, risala occupies an important place in the formation of professional ethics, the relationship between master-usta and apprentice-shogird, and such positive qualities in pupils as a respect for elders and the master, also as devotion to the profession, honesty and loyalty.

Types of Risala

Each type of craft had its rulebook — risala, and through them you can get information about the history, spiritual mentors (Murshid piri), famous masters of certain kind of craft. According to the rules of risala each master was responsible for the education and ethics of his apprentice; he might bring up several years and teach secrets of the profession to apprentice. The master demanded from his apprentice to comply with orders of risala, to be far from prohibited things in risala, also to be polite with customers, and to carry out each job honestly. Even risala contains information about that the non-compliance with rules of risala, and ignoring risala by apprentices or masters lead to the fact that the day of judgment the one who broke the rules and did not observe them will answer, Allah will punish him, his wife should leave him and he should be punished by eight strokes of lash. This every master had his own business on the base of instructions of risala. It was argued that the craftsmen, who do not have risala be damned by spiritual mentors, prophets and angels. According to the risala the spiritual mentor of weavers was Eve and of blacksmiths was the Prophet David, the masters of boats was the Prophet Noah (Nuh), the builders was the Prophet Muhammad, the sewers was the Prophet Idris, shepherds of bovine and horned cattle are Zangi-Ata and Chupon-Ata [4, с. 2]. Jewelers also had their risala. Risala had value not only in terms of fundamentals crafts, it was also a source of knowledge for the development of handicraft workshops, tools and technologies [3, с. 22].

In addition to abovementioned things legends and commitments in risala used for the upbringing of apprentices and the regulation of relationship between craftsmen, and the traditions of relationships between masters and apprentices.

Russian orientalist V. R. Rohsen once set himself the task of finding manuscripts devoted to the craft unions and argued that they have an interesting scientific and practical importance [5, с. 326]. He knew that the desire for enrichment contributed for creation of craft unions. So from this we see that in the East since earliest times there were craft unions and associations which had own written statutes reflected religious, economic and legal norms with different regional peculiarities. These ruling affairs on the one hand show that the extant risalas are written monuments contain important information about the primary craft shops, and on the other hand they are associations of craft shops in a corporate system.

In general, we can conclude that handicraft production in the region unionized the most of local craftmen and artisans. According to written rules of risalas the extant category of handicraft production were divided into the following 32 kinds: 1) weavers, 2) smiths 3) plasterers 4) soap-makers and candle-makers 5) halva-makers 6) shoemakers, 7) butchers, 8) potters, 9) silkworm breeders and silk weavers 10) velvet weavers 11) hairdressers, 12) grocers 13) bullock cart masters, 14) electricians 15) saddlers 16) felt mat and felt masters 17) coppersmiths 18) mill masters 19) silk dyers 20) tanners, 21) peasants 22) candy-makers, confectioners 23) millers 24) masters of copper vessels 25) makers of paints and glues, 26) cooks 27) oil millers 28) masters of silver 29) chaikhana keepers 30) bakers 31) brick pavers 32) mullahs 33) doctors 34) shepherds 35) merchants 36) saddle masters 37) breeders 38) arrow makers 39) painters 40) musicians and other art professions 41) cast iron masters. In addition, the written sources also contain information on associations, which had not own production [6, с. 512].

The above mentioned categories are the 32 types of the craft peculiar to Asia and Europe, and their descriptions are also details of the legendary character. In part N.Lykoshin wrote in the preface of his article “Risala about arrow”, that there were 32 ​​kinds of the craft in Turkestan according to the risala. As stated in the article of N. F. Petrovsky “silkworm breeding and silk weaving in Central Asia” (pp. 140–160) that in villages of urban type recorded 32 kinds of the craft, and while this number reflects not craft activities only the people, as well as 32 ​​human body parts. This legendary number 32 is also fixed in Mongolian parables [7, с. 113]. Also, the figure 32 is reflected in the list of workshops and craft associations in London in the 14th century. The researcher Gavrilov wrote that many Eastern scripts have 32 letters and Turkic poets wrote poems to 32 lines. In addition to abovementioned associations grocers, merchants, arrow masters, shepherds, healers, mullahs, chaikhana keepers and dyers were carriers of independent professions. The significance of Risala consists in the fact that it was the path of Allah, and the craftsman followed the rules of risala as “a God-fearing person” in the organization and management of affairs which lost its relevance today.

M.Gavrilov argues that the most of risala of artisans was translated from Persian [8, с. 110]. The risala of weavers, translated by him is transferable option of rules (charters) of workshops, and was included in the “Collection of risala’s”, published by G. H. Arifjanova in Tashkent in 1915. The reason of the translation of this risala was that firstly risala never been translated into Russian before, and secondly as stated in the European literature about the shops “Adam” interpreted as a patron and spiritual mentor of weavers. Nalivkin wrote that in 1886 risala could be found in all craftsmen. But while at that time there were no separate risala devoted special guild associations, and a small amount of the found types was not fit for the use. For example, risala about the activities of artists found by P. A. Komarev kept in St. Petersburg in unfit condition for use. In part Mahmudkhodja Bekhbudi (in 1903) in his speech to Muslims also highlighted the importance of the collection and restoration of craft charters — risalas and correction of their content [9, с. 2]. In this speech M. Bekhbudi criticized the fraud of mullahs and ishans (religious leaders) and the rudeness of Sharia fundamentalists who interpreted statutes of risala with incorrectness. Especially angered Bekhbudi such mentions in risala that a person who reads “Takbir”(glorification of Allah) takes the ranks of rulers and saints (like Adam, Noah, Abraham and Muhammad). Bekhbudi invited all craftsmen to show their own risalas for amendments to such educated individuals like muftis and mudarris [10, с. 627]. Since such distorted spaces in risalas can create difficulties for themselves of artisans, this is necessary to put an end on it. Also, he emphasized that the immediately should be developed measures to ensure not spread of such kinds of risala and spiritual mentors as ishans, craftsmen and others do not claim to prophecy. These distortions are forced illiterate artisans through using a scare tactic by means of various religious motives to do what is written in them. According to them if some artisan or craftsman will not follow the rules which are written in Risala, the spiritual mentors resurrected and forced to eat pork those who broke the rules and renounce them. In particular, according to the statutes of butchers if they do not follow the rules: the vialator will be cursed and disgraced in the day of judgment; and blacksmiths will be punished much harsher they are left without food and water, they will lose their master status and become sinners, and beat them in 40 slash, spiritual leaders renounce these masters and they will curse them”. It is known these norms as “creations of God” showed their remoteness from real life today.

S. E. Malov in his work (he studied a shamanism among the Turkics of Eastern Turkestan) also mentioned risala about shamans. Describing the unique charters of shamans (risala) in particular he stressed that “every Shaman-man and Shaman-woman should have own handwritten charter, i.e. catechism of shamanism”. According to his opinion “In Eastern Turkestan shamanism exists to nowadays, according to the statute, each shamanic belief and summery creativity conducted by these rules”. But it should be carefully examined the attempts to legitimize shamanism in Islam and it’s surviving long period in Eastern Turkestan [11, с. 5–16].

Shamanic statutes (risala) in its content almost looked like a simple craft statutes (risala) of weavers, gold embroiderers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, butchers and others. The above data confirm the preservation of shamanic believes in Turkestan under the rules of “folk (“public”) Islam”. But not found information that shamanism should their own charters. Since Eastern Turkistan people are more followers of Islam.

Furthermore, also the people who were engaged in washing the dead (murdashuy, yuvguchi) had own statutes, similar to risalas of artisans. They have been described in detail the rules of cleansing the dead, praying with cleansing, also used vessels and other details of the process [12, с. 14–15]. The above information suggests that every profession had its risala and this charter was a document which confirmed a presence of certain kind of the craft. According to the craftsmen, the presence and persistence of risala ensure the legality of the profession and led artisans to abundance [3, с. 109].

Masters and apprentices are the principal figures in the shops and guilds. In risalas mainly provided information about them and ordering rules of relations between them. In particular, the risala of weavers states that the master can take apprentices from 7 to 12 age, and in the beginning they are taught religious knowledge and traditions, and then they learn the craft. Also, according to risala the main ritual in the craft process is considered the acceptance of apprentices in the ranks of the masters [13, p. 145].

If the master does not follow the statutes of risala it is prohibited him to lead over the apprentices, it will not develop his craft and soul of ancestors will curse him.

Risala was a regular book of artisans, and the size of one sheet was 1/16 or 1/8 part [1, с. 1]. In 1885 was published in Tashkent “risala (charter) of peasants» in 50 copies [14, б. 86]. In addition there were published several risalas about saddlers, blacksmiths, tea sellers, tinkers, shoemakers, grocers, bakers, sewers, butter-makers and other crafts

Risala of artisans in Central Asia, in most cases had similarities, and passed from generation to generation in handwritten form. To date, most of the collections of some risalas stored in the libraries of the Institute of Oriental Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oriental Studies after name of Abu Rayhan Biruni of Uzbek Academy of Sciences, fund-museums of the National University of Uzbekistan. Some texts of Risalas were published in the pages of “Туркестанская туземная газета” (“Turkestan native newspapers”).

Regional differences of Risala in Central Asia

In particular, the written sources thich were charters of artisans of Bukhara Khanate called “risolai bofandagon” — charters of weavers, “Risalai baqqali” — charter of grocers, “Risola-i-Dehkon” — charter of peasants”, and “Risolai miltik andozi” — charter of gunsmiths, “Risola-i chitgari” — charter printers, “Risola and ohangari” — charter of blacksmiths, “Risala-i zhomashuyi” — of charter laundry washers, “Risola-i misgari” — charter of coppersmiths and etc [3, с. 16].

Unlike Bukhara statutes risalas of Khiva in most cases called by the Turkic words and the word “Risals” was replaced with options “Rasmi” and “Dastur” [15, с. 129]. If some risalas started with the term “tarikai” which meant the meanings of the method, a form of movement, Sufi path, while others began with terms “Rasmi — Rusumi”, “Dasturi” or “Bismillahir — Rakhmanir rakhiym” and then came the name of a certain type of the craft. It can be emphasized that “Tarikai Rasmi misgari” — was the charter of coppersmiths, “Temirchilarning Dastur” — charter of smiths “Kabudgar (buekchilar) larning Dasturi” — charter of dyers, “kassoblarning Rasmi — Dastur” — charter of butchers), “Telfakduzlarning Rasmi — Rusumi” — charter of hatters, “Tarozidorlarning Rasmi koidasi” — charter of weighers, “tarikai Rasmi — Rusumi muzaduz” — charter of shoemakers, “Bakkollarning Rasmi” — charter of grocers, and they all started with ethnic names and further expounded the text of the statute artisans [16, с. 65]. Also from risala, aimed at streamlining movements from different classes of the population it can be emphasized risalas “devanachilik” — vagrancy statutes, and “Risolai quzzot” — charter that specifies the responsibilities and debts of kadis (people's courts) [17, с. 2].

Some kinds of crafts and occupations also had their own risalas. One of them is “Risala and miltikandoz” [18, с. 3], which was charter of gunsmiths as a small book, rewritten in ink nastalik writing style in Russian paper in the first half of the 19th century [15, б. 133]. In early risalas kept in military form and its small volume was convenient to keep it in pocket. Also, a big handwriting and composure in the intertwining also indicate military value of the risala. Like all other statutes risala of gunsmiths begins with praise to the name of God and the legend of Imam Jafar Siddiq.

Risala of butchers contained the 12 ethic norms, and the seventh of them read about keeping the friendship between the people of the world, and the eighth paragraph was devoted to such human virtues as honesty [8, с. 29]. From this it is evident that each risala someway repeated and supplemented the other.

Like other regions of Central Asia in the oases of southern Uzbekistan after names of people who were engaged in trade of some things added the word. “… furush” after the name of the selling thing like chayfurush (tea vendors) kigizfurush (felt sellers) kandalatfurush (pastry traders) supurgifurush (traders of broom) ruyanfurushi (dye traders) yogochfurush (tree sellers) choponfurush (robe sellers) tandirfurush (the sellers of national furnaces — tandoor) sovunfurush (soap sellers) mahsifurush (sellers of national boots — makhsi) etikfurushi (boot sellers) and others who had risalas of their professions.

In Bukhara khanate risala devoted to peasants said that from the time of Adam to the period of Prophet Muhammad lived 7777 peasants [19, б. 7], another risala contains information about that the number of great peasants is seventeen hundred [20, б. 4]. In risala is composed written prayers, reading by peasants in harness of oxen, plowing the land, at sowing wheat, barley, flax, rice, sesame, millet, mung bean, beans, melon, watermelon, pumpkin, carrots, radishes, onions, etc., as well as when watering the land, during harvest, threshing, winnowing, packing and keeping of the grain at. At the end of risalas is written violators did not follow these guidelines will be poor, their profession does not give them the benefit, and if on the contrary if they fulfill all the requirements assigned to risala, the holder of the profession will be blessed by Allah, and will have the benefit of the profession, as well as after death go to heaven.

If risalas of local artisans in Central Asia are corresponded to religious norms based on Sharia law, and in Western Europe, such documents were developed handicraft masters and were confirmed in general meetings.

In general, still poorly researched problem of the origin of craft unions in the Muslim East, particularly in Central Asia. But it is known that the processes of the organization of craft, even the relationship between master and apprentice evolved since the days of Ancient Babylon, first such information found in legislations of Hammurabi in 1789–1787, during the ruling period of Cyrus, Cambyses and others in the VI — V centuries BC in Ancient Iran. Furthermore, Antic craft associations were well known in Ancient Greece, Rome and other countries [21, с. 79–80].

If we consider the craft of weaving statutes on the production technology of matter, finishing patterns of matter, methods of production are written in risala of shops (Dukan risala). In part, little known risala of printers (Risolai chitgaron), which is written in Persian-Tajik language also provides information mainly about technologies of patterns on the matter, the names of dyers, about simple machines of workshops as well as other tools of printers [22, с. 101].

In particular, at the same time reverence the spirits of ancestors and spiritual mentor of the craft is reflected also in Risala. In risala of blacksmiths, written in 1897 is written about holding of workshop. All craftsmen believed that the soul of the mentor will always be in master’s shop. By this, they paid special attention to the order of things, not to use bad words about them, do not go into the master’s shop without ablutions, avoid using bad words and show bad mood to each other in workshops, do not use dirty water in cleaning of tools, do not through remains of raw materials in wrong places, and also it was forbidden to sell goods without treatment and others [1, с. 45]. In this charter, we can observe not only the respect for a spiritual mentor, also attempts to attract more clients to their shops.


Till nowadays there are different opinions about the origins of risala. Some researchers attribute an appearance of ancient risala with the territory of Iran, and others believe that this process was linked with the advent of Islam in the region. According to Middendorf risala — as a manuscript source is always interesting from historical and cultural aspects. Moreover our study is not focusing a question of the date of occurrence of risala. It is important to know how to keep it’s statutes in handicraft processes played an important role in developing the kinds of the craft. Risala, which performs the role of statutes and rules in the preparation and organization of crafts takes an important place in the study of the history of craft. In conclusion we can say that risalas formed and developed in the territory of Central Asia and played a positive role in the evolution of handicrafts.


1.         Гаврилов М. Самарканд и Ташкент. М. изд. “Рисоля”. 1922.

2.         Лыкошин Н. С. Оригинальное наставление к стрельбе // Туркестанские ведомости. — Ташкент, 1901. № 38.

3.         Атаджанова Д. Ш. Историграфия ремесленного производства Бухарского ханства Х1Х в. (на основе изучения литературы и ремесленных уставов “рисола”).: Дисс... канд. ист. наук. — Ташкент, 2008.

4.         Рисоля о стрельбе // Туркестанские ведомости. 1901. № 38.

5.         Look at: «Записки Восточного Отделения Империатрского Русского Археологического общество». Т.1., с. 326. review of V. R. Rosen.

6.         Till today is found near 40 manuscript works in style of risala of Central Asian craft associations. Evliya Celebi. Seyahat-name. — Constantinople, the 1st ed.

7.         Schuyler”a “Turkestan” …p. 191. Огородников. Страна солнца.

8.         Гаврилов М. Рисоля сартовских ремесленников. — Ташкент, 1912.

9.         Look at the letter written by Makhmudkhodja Behbudi to the newspaper of «Туркистан тузем» in Saamarkand № 27, 1903. In addition, in № 28 he wrote about the risala on carpentry.

10.     Also according to Gavrilov in 1734–1737 in Germany were changed statues of Prussian guild associations. Look at: Э.Зеворт. “Истор. Нов времени”. Т.1.

11.     Малов С. Е.. Шаманства у сартов Восточного Туркестана. // Сборник Музея антропологии и этнографии имени Петра Великого при РАН ко дню 80-летию академика В. В. Радлова (1837–1917). Т.У 1918.

12.     Морель М. Мурдашуи // Семь дней. 1928, № 28.

13.     In the work “Городские цехи” (“City guilds”) of Egizarov (- 145 p.) the ritual of acceptance for foremen compared with similar procedures in guilds of Caucasian region.

14.     Исмоилова Ж. Х. Тошкентда ҳунармандчиликнинг ривожланиши ва унга ислом маданиятининг таъсири// Ўзбекистонда ижтимоий фанлар. 2007. № 4.

15.     Тураева С. Р. ХУ111 асрнинг иккинчи ярми — Х1Х асрнинг 70-йилларида Хива хонлиги ҳунармандчилиги тарихи. Тарих фанлари ном. дараж. олиш учун ёзилаган дисс. — Тошкент,2010.

16.     Шомансурова А. Интересные материалы о ремесленных организациях в Хиве Х1Х века // Общественные науке в Узбекистане. — Ташкент, 1965. № 10.

17.     Museum foundation of the National University of Republic of Uzbekistan. Inv. № 210174.

18.     Museum foundation of the National University of Republic of Uzbekistan. Inv. № 159486.

19.     Ҳунармандлар рисоласи / Нашрга тайёрловчи, сўз боши ва изоҳлар мууаллифи Р. Қиличев — Бухоро, 2007.

20.     Деҳқончилик рисоласи // Туркестанская туземная газета. 1902, № 22.

21.     Look at guild statues of foremen of Egypt: Б. А. Тураев. История древного Востока. — Спб. 1913.

22.     Мукминова Р. Г. К характеристики Самаркандских тканей конца ХV — ХVI века.// Общественные науке в Узбекистане. 1970, № 9.


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